Waterfowl Influence on Fecal Indicator Bacteria in Central Florida Freshwater Lakes

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Schomaker, Rachel
Gasper, Brittany
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Fecal indicator
E. coli
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Bacteria are important natural components of virtually every environment, including water systems. While many are beneficial to the ecosystem in which they are found, some can be indicators of pathogens that can endanger human health. Fecal coliform bacteria such as Escherichia coli are bacterial indicators that can originate from many of the same sources as pathogenic bacteria and serve as a sign that pathogens may be present. These bacterial counts can be influenced by many different well-studied environmental factors, including pH, temperature, and nutrient availability. In addition to these factors, mammalian and waterfowl presence can influence coliform abundance. While this area of research has been examined before, conflicting conclusions have been reached as to whether or not waterfowl abundance positively correlates with coliform bacteria abundance. Levels of E. coli as well as Enterococcus, a genus of non-coliform bacterial organisms that are also found in high concentrations in feces, were measured by membrane filtration of water samples collected from six freshwater lakes around Lakeland, FL and were isolated from fresh fecal samples that were simultaneously collected from waterfowl species present at the lakes. Results suggest a correlation between the abundance of E. coli and the presence of waterfowl.